So why do golfers on the practice green before a round take 2 or 3 balls, drop em and then hit them one after the other toward the same hole without setting up or reading the green?
Some people might answer, well, Craig, they’re working on their stroke.
I’m guessing what they mean by stroke is the ability to send the ball down the chosen target line.
Ok, fair enough, but if that is what they really want to do, that’s got to be the least effective way to accomplish that. If I wanted to accomplish that, I’d go get my putting track out with side guides or just line up a couple clubs as a track to make sure I hit the ball square and follow through square… and I’d do it on a spot on the green where it’s flat and straight so that I could see the results. I would hit 6 or 7 balls in a row and I wouldn’t even be hitting at a hole, I would be aiming at a smaller target than that. I would train my stroke this way. Doesn’t that make sense? Maybe there’s an even better way but certainly hitting 2 balls to various holes is NOT the best way to train your stroke.
But hitting your putt where you are aiming it is only a part of actually making a putt. In fact, I would suggest that speed and break are even more important.
So, I’m going to guess that the true answer as to why golfers hit 2 or 3 balls from the same spot (like I used to do), is because they’re lazy. They don’t want to go through the motions of reading a green and going through a routine like they do on a real putt. That would be REAL practice. I’ve asked and found that they actually think they are being more efficient and getting to hit more balls in the same amount of time which they consider “reps” or “repetitions.”
There’s this religious-like faith in repetitions in the golf world. But, isn’t it totally logical that if you are repeating an action that isn’t useful that you are ingraining poor results into your mind and muscles?
So what’s the truth about lazy practice putting? You’re getting reps and practicing how NOT to read a green and rely on the feedback you got from your first putt (which never happens on the real course). On top of that, those golfers are totally relaxed and at ease on the practice green with no pressure to make a putt. Final result? They are practicing UNFOCUSED golf and when they need to make a putt under pressure, it becomes extremely difficult.
You will not fix playing UNFOCUSED golf by buying more clubs.
You can’t become FOCUSED by hitting more unfocused putts on the practice green
A new putter or putting stroke will do nothing to reduce your score when your normal game is to play unfocused golf.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with playing UNFOCUSED golf. That’s playing for the pure enjoyment of the game. Go out there and have a beer, I play this way some of the time for the sheer fun of it.
But when I want to go low….FOCUS and INTENTION
So what’s my point here? Whatever you do out there on the practice green or the range or even at home when you want to work on your game, BE INTENTIONAL. What do I mean by this?
I mean, before you hit a ball, have an idea of specifically want you are working on and put your intention on that. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is the best way to achieve my intention here. That’s how you will develop FOCUS for out on the course when it counts. That’s how you will make your warmups (practice) actually pay off for you out on the course.
I’d love to see your INTENTIONAL warmup tips for on the practice green below and why you think it works.
Greens and fairways,
First off, let me just say that this is one the peak experiences of being a golfer…hanging out with some friends for a long weekend or more and making golf your central focus. It doesn’t get any better than this and you should find some golfers and do it!
My 2 brothers and I showed up at our condo and right off the bat, were pleasantly surprised at the golf prints on the wall in the main room. The golf attitude heats up!
We get settled down in our condo, have a beer together and go right to the course! We get there at 3:30pm and plan on playing the short course, 18 holes of par 3s, but it’s full and so we say what the heck and step out onto the 1st tee with no warmup at all. We just figure we will work out the kinks on the course as a practice round until my son shows up in a couple of days.
I step up to the first tee after a couple of stretches and I flick the switch in my mind that sends me back to all those great drives I’ve had in the past. I’ve done my preshot routine so many times now that my zone trigger has become that moment when I’m standing over the ball and just about to start my backswing. I hit it pretty good and 250 yards down the left side of the fairway. As I walk up to the ball, I’m thinking “Square and Point” over and over. I pull out a pitching wedge for a 120 yard approach and I’m pin high about 15 feet left with a downhill putt. Not having hit one putt on the course, I bend down and feel the grass and estimate the speed. I end up 3-putting from a total lack of feel for the putt. I take a few more practice putts before going to the next hole (yes, that’s within the rules).
It’s my first round with a new set of irons and I’m all over the place with them but my chipping and putting game make up for it and I finish 2 over. Now, it’s a pretty easy course but I’m extremely happy with my practice round and go to bed that night replaying all my great shots as I drift off. It’s a great golf day and here’s the keys to the round that comes from my teachings.
1. Go into a new round ASSUMING you are going to play well. But, it’s not an excited feeling, no, that can turn to tension really easily. What you want is a relaxed, cocky attitude….I thinking thoughts like “I do this all of the time…this is easy…I know I’m going to play well today…etc.
2. Do nothing tricky. I played extremely conservative not having had any warmup. I used more club and swung the clubs easier. I did everything I could to keep the ball in play.
3. For putting, the key was to ALWAYS make sure I had my eyes directly over the target line. When I forgot to do that, I missed three putts from inside 4 feet. I now know I need to incorporate that into my pre-putt routine.
4. I noticed that when I took my time on chips and picked my spot and focused like I do on my other shots, they come off well. It’s so easy to be lazy on chips and treat them like longer irons where we just pick a spot and fire away. You’ve got to walk up and look at the green like a putt.
I’m always learning, always observing. I’m constantly going over what goes well and telling my inner golfer that I want more of that. Tomorrow’s another day and another challenge we can all look forward to whether or not we are on the course!
Greens and fairways,
I played a casual golf round this past weekend with my brother and had a big breakthrough. It was spur of the moment and we were risking getting rained on since the weatherman was predicting 50% chance of rain. Pretty typical for us here in Seattle. I throw the umbrella in the bag, shrug my shoulders and say “let’s do it!”
We show up at the course at 2pm for a twilight 2:50 tee time and it’s pretty quiet so the starter asks us if we are ready to go and we say “sure!”
No warmup, no range balls, not even rolling a few balls on the practice green. Get this… both of our first thoughts for going out there on the course were to be able to surprise our women by getting home early after golf. Hah! We figured we could earn some points to be stashed for later cashing in or when we do something stupid that we need to apologize for.
Hilarious I know but a lot of people make their golf decisions this way! That decision did cost me 2 strokes though…
Ok, getting back on track for something useful for you…
I walk up to the first tee, take a few practice swings, step up to the ball, and then proceed to top it and send the ball a whopping 100 yards. My second shot goes into the trees, I chip up short, 3 to get in and I card a double bogey. Boom, I’m 2 over after 1 hole….nice.
To make the story short, I make par on the next 8 holes in a row. It’s an easy course but still, even on an easy course, you still have to putt and chip to make your pars and I was doing it!
I tell my brother at the turn that I’m going to par out the back nine and finish 2 over…AND I DID! Couple of bogeys and a couple of birdies and yep, I finish 2 over and it’s a darn good day for me! I’m ecstatic!
“So what’s the problem Craig?” you might be asking.
Being Mr. Analyzer, (for yours and my benefit), I keep asking myself “Why is it that I could go out there today and shoot a 2 over today and yet, a couple months ago on my last round, I shoot a 12 over?
I did no practice or any kind of work on my game between rounds.
Other than writing to you in my email letter and blog posts, I’ve done no mental work on my game the whole time either.
“What the hey? How is this possible?”
There is one big difference that finally hit me after I got home and here it is….
Energy…my overall energy level is up from a month ago!
Yep, that’s it. Energy.
You’ve got to remember something here in order to buy into this: There is a next-to-nothing difference in muscle movement between a great shot and a horrible one. The slightest bit of improved focus (the brain is a muscle), and the golf shot or putt comes out better.
The weird thing about all of this is that IT IS VERY SUBTLE but I am totally convinced that this was the difference. The way it showed up was that when I stepped up to the ball, EVERYTHING WAS EASY. My swing was easy. My thoughts were easy. My body moved easily.
I was never tired! I wasn’t mister “on fire” or anything…I just had an optimistic attitude that comes from my body working well. A couple months ago, it wasn’t. I’m totally convinced that this was the biggest part of a 10-stroke difference. Many of us who are getting up there in years have noticed a significant drop-off in energy levels. I’m almost 49 and I can definitely tell the difference from 10 years ago.
How did I improve my energy levels from a couple months ago?
I went and saw a naturopath! This is a doctor who primarily uses natural remedies as much as possible. A couple months ago, I was struggling with pollen allergies and just woke up many days with low energy. Get this, my body was also struggling with toxins as my blood tests showed. We narrowed it down to formaldehyde concentration and guess where that came from? My new car I had bought late last year. True story. Anyway, she put me on a program to deal with it in a totally natural way and 2 months later, I’m back to feeling energetic again!
This is a big area of study I want to learn more about and will keep you apprised. I also have learned of the new science called “energy psychology” and I am very curious.
She works with people worldwide via Skype as well as in person.
I’d love to hear your ideas below about how we can increase our energy, besides the obvious of more exercise and eating better.
Greens and fairways,
Dr. Tom Kubistant, CSP Golf Psychologist
Patience is power — Chinese Proverb
One of the few things I can still clearly remember from the turbulent 1960’s was a popular poster depicting two vultures sitting in a tree.
As you know, vultures wait to feed on already dead carrion. In that poster, one vulture said to the other, “Patience, hell, I want to kill something!”
Most of us want to “kill” something during a round of golf. We become tired of waiting. We feel we don’t have any other options but to kill it.
And besides, it seems like more fun just to mindlessly bust a shot. So we force things…usually with disappointing and disastrous results.
Both high level and consistent golf are grounded in patience. Those who play “all-or-nothing” golf usually end up with nothing. Beyond that, impatient people rarely improve–certainly not at the rate they expect. Patience is not only a critical key for maximizing your rounds, but also in guiding your long term progress.
Most of us sabotage our rounds by impatience. To fully understand this, please answer these questions: how many shots per round do you fritter away by impatience? How many shots are you not clear and committed in its decision making?
How often do you not include in your planning where to miss the shot? Do you rush your preshot routine when discouraged? How often do you try to force a shot into a target?
How often do you become mentally dulled during the last six holes? How often do you let your emotions (both greed and frustration) control you? How many shots, holes, and even rounds do you give up on? All of your answers to these questions can be summarized by a lack of patience.
In competitive golf, most tournaments at all levels–even the pros at majors–are lost, not outright won. The player who endures makes the least number of mistakes at the critical times. Said more positively, the winners tend to be the most patient.
Most players do not have the courage, self-discipline, and belief to be patient. In evaluating Jack Nicklaus’ game, Tom Weiskoph said, “To play the way Jack did required and enormous amount of patience.
Most players just couldn’t do it–they’d get too antsy and feel as if they must force the issue. Nicklaus had more patience than anyone I ever saw. Sure, it is much easier to be impatient under the guises of being natural or fluid.
However, one of the great challenges of golf–both recreational and competitive–is that it challenges golfers to be patient.
The Game rewards patience. As the great Byron Nelson advised, “If you don’t have patience playing golf, the game will teach it to you.”
Here is the encouraging thing: patience can be improved. Sure, patience is expanded with overall maturity as well as experience from various playing situations.
However, it can also be improved upon by consciously working on it. Patience is an ability and, as such, it can be refined and deepened. Here is how….continued
Dr. Tom Kubistant, Master of the Intrinsic, is one of the leading speakers, researches, and coaches of the mental and scoring games. He is one of the pioneers in sports psychology working with Olympic, Professional and Amateur athletes since 1973. Since 1984, he has worked exclusively with golfers ranging from tour pros to average weekend golfers. Over the last fifteen years, Tom has been THE most prolific writer on the psychology of golf with three books and over 275 articles and he maintains (and has read) the entire “Bibliography On The Psychology Of Golf;” everything ever written and recorded on the mental game. He trains other sports psychologists and mental coaches and is widely known as the leading authority on all forms of THE YIPS.
You can get more of his wisdom and sign up for his free newsletter at:
How one of golf’s greatest legends uses the driver
Golf DRIVING FOR DISTANCE
by Gary Player
Keeping in mind this American stress on the long ball, I hope my methods of adding distance will be helpful to the reader.
Longer clubs naturally give a longer swing arc. If you have a longer arc I golf you’re automatically going to hit the ball farther.
Also, with longer clubs it is possible to shorten your grip on the shaft if a shot calls for less distance; with a short club you don’t have enough shaft to grip farther up when you need extra length.
A word of warning: the prospective club buyer who wants more length should consult his professional for advice before investing in longer shafts.
A second factor that helped me hit the ball farther was improvement of my weight shift. Like many golfers, I had a problem shifting my weight to my left foot on the downswing. I frequently fell back on my right leg, pulling away from the ball. Your weight should move slightly to the right foot on the backswing and then shift to the left foot immediately at the start of the downswing.
***The one thing I concentrate on during my swing is shifting my weight to the left foot in returning the clubhead to the ball. ***
This weight shift to the left adds distance because it helps delay the uncocking of the wrists on the downswing. This delayed hit uncocks the wrists just before impact so that the speed of the clubhead really accelerates as it meets the ball.
Too many golfers feel they add distance by swinging harder with hands and arms. They start the downswing with their hands and arms before shifting their weight to the left foot. As a result, they uncock their wrists too early, wasting clubhead speed.
***Uncocking the wrists with a delayed hit is the real secret of long drives***, but you shouldn’t be conscious of hands and arms in the golf swing. By immediately shifting your weight forward on the downswing, you will automatically delay unlocking your wrists. Your hands and arms will follow your hip turn naturally and whip the club through.
A proper weight shift brings the big muscles into play and provides a delayed uncocking of the wrists on the downswing. You will find it can do wonders in adding distance.
Paul Harney is an excellent example of a golfer who uses the proper weight shift. Paul is slight, weighing about 140 pounds. Yet, he is one of the longest hitters in golf.
I close my stance, which means my right foot is pulled back farther than my left from along the target line. In this stance, it is easier for me to get a full body turn on the backswing. By taking a full windup and by using big muscles of my body and legs, I add both rhythm and power to my swing.
Golfers who start the club back with their hands and arms alone have a tendency to swing at the ball with their hands and arms before the weight has shifted forward. Thus, they never fully employ the back and leg muscles that provide maximum power in the golf swing. The legs are about four times as strong as the arms: why waste this potential by swinging solely with hands and arms?
The closed stance also helps me take the club back well inside the line to the target. This prevents me from returning the clubhead to the ball from the outside, thus creating a sliced shot and consequent loss of distance.
I also help my downswing weight shift to the left by addressing the ball with my left toe slightly pointed outward, toward the target. This makes it easier for me to turn my hips ahead of my hands on the downswing.
Several other features of my address foster this proper weight shift and resulting delayed hit.
I like to imagine my right elbow is against my side at address, although physically it isn’t. I want this elbow tucked into my side as soon as possible on the downswing so that what I’m doing at address is what I hope to duplicate at impact.
This is also true of my right leg, which I bow slightly forward at address, pointing the knee a bit toward the target. As with the right elbow, this merely advances the position I want to be in when I hit the ball.
These actions, the right elbow in tight, and kicking the right knee toward the target, help me transfer my weight to my left foot.
Being relaxed at the address position also makes it easier to shift the weight during my swing I like to take a deep breath and exhale before I start the action, as many baseball pitchers do before they throw. I then make my forward press, kick my right knee and hands a bit more toward target, and follow with the backswing.
Maintenance of good physical condition has helped me hit the ball farther. I watch my diet very closely and follow an exercise routine. Playing golf almost every day, year after year, keeping in shape both mentally and physically becomes not only important, it is essential. I really enjoy exercise. Sometimes after a bad day on the course I come home tired and discourage. But if I exercise before going to bed, I feel clean and strong again. This does wonders for me mentally, as well as physically.
A book on yoga has been a big help. It taught me the benefits of standing on my head at least tow minutes each day. This pumps blood to my brain (the most important organ in the body-even for a golfer!) and makes me more alert for the day ahead. I never sleep with a pillow. I believe a pillow only makes it more difficult for my heart to pump blood to my brain.
I refrain from sweets, pastries, and fried foods. On the course I like to eat dried fruits. Like Napoleon, I believe that an army marches on its stomach and that the fruits I eat during a round of golf help me build energy. They give the acids in my stomach something to work on.
Now that I’ve discussed things that have helped me hit the ball farther, I think I’d better point out a few dangers a golfer seeking greater distance must try to avoid.
First, you may find you are going too high on your left toe when you try a full windup on the backswing. I am somewhat guilty of this myself.
However, if you must lift your left heel high on the backswing, be certain you lower it immediately at the start of the downswing. If you don’t, your weight may remain on your right foot and you will automatically fall back, uncocking your wrists too early. You will find yourself throwing the club out with your hands as if you were casting a fly rod; instead of bringing them in close to your body in the delayed hit position.
Some people trying for extra distance have a tendency to overswing. They take the club back farther than they should. Guard against opening your left hand at the top of your backswing. You cannot overswing if this hand grips the club firmly throughout the swing. (Reverse for lefthander, of course).
In closing, I’d like to talk about hitting the ball hard. Watching me play, you might say I swing hard. This is true. Actually, I feel that I am swinging as hard as I can.A second pitfall in striving for length is a tendency to swing the shoulders on too level a plane. The left shoulder should tilt slightly on the backswing, and the right shoulder should swing well down and under on the downswing.
It’s a funny thing about golfers. Many won’t admit they swing as hard as they can, within reason. But the truth is that all the players on the pro tour hit that ball as hard as they can and still keep it in play.
But swinging hard at the ball doesn’t in itself provide distance. It is the proper weight shift and the delayed hit that gives results as I mentioned earlier.
You must also have good timing. To swing at the ball hard and still maintain good timing, take the club back from the ball slowly. Build your swing up slowly, with a full body turn, a firm grip, and then zoom into the ball. From the day I started golf, I’ve always tried to hit the ball as hard as I could; I would advise that any young boy or girl who is beginning golf do the same. It’s simple to go from a hard swing to an easier one. But, if you have been an easy swinger, it’s difficult to suddenly start hitting the ball hard. More often it goes the other way, and an easy swinger develops a lazy stroke when he gets older.
(end of Driving for Distance)
Hope you enjoyed the article above by Gary Player from his book.
Greens and fairways!
This is an excerpt from a book in the Online Classics Golf Library,
an ever-expanding collection of golf books. Membership and lifetime access to the OCG library can be yours with your purchase of Break 80 Without Practice, a complete guide to score improvement for those with little time to work on their game AND A TURBOCHARGE for those that do.
At his peak, when Palmer put the ball on the golf tees, there was nobody better. In his own words on his shots off the tees:
I’ve been telling you to hit the ball hard, but let’s pause for a minute and qualify that.
No good player ever swings as hard as he can; that is, he doesn’t throw everything at the ball. Rather, it’s a matter of timing, not of overpowering the ball off the tees.
Some people can turn farther than others. The bigger the turn, the longer the arc of the club head and the better the chance to speed it up.
Every player has to stop his turn at some point. When further movement back will affect the grip on the club or alter the stance, the limit of the turn has been reached. Each player has to find this point for himself.
With my left foot pointed slightly toward the hole and my right set at a right angle to the intended line of flight and slightly behind the front foot, I have room for the turn. My hips can rotate along with my shoulders, and my head will remain fixed without impairing my vision of the ball. My feet are almost exactly as far apart as my shoulders, and my knees are Hexed slightly, giving the impression I’m about to sit down.
If I can get back to this same position at impact, I know I will hit the ball right off the tee. If I position myself wrong at the start, my chances of hitting the ball properly are reduced, unless there is some compensation in the swing. Compensations create bad habits. You cannot do the same wrong things the same way all the time because they are unnatural. But you can get in the habit of doing the right things most of the time.
Golf clubs are constructed for different distances by changing the loft of the club. The face of the driver makes almost a right angle to the ball and propels it the longest distance. The brassie or two-wood is cut with more loft and so on down to the wedge, which lies almost flat on the ground.
The feet are spread farthest apart in the stance for the driver and get closer together as the club loft increases. The stance opens, too, to the point that the wedge is hit with the feet barely apart and the left foot well behind the right.
The ball is positioned from the front toward the back. With the driver, the ball rests on the tee opposite the instep of the left foot. When you get to the five- iron, the ball rests halfway between the feet. And when you reach the wedge, it is opposite the instep of the right foot.
On my drives I concentrate on moving the left shoulder under my chin with a slow, deliberate action until I reach the top of my backswing. Now is the time to turn on the power. I have the feeling that my left hand is pulling the club down.
You should be able to feel the weight leaving the right side before you start thinking about hitting the ball off the tee. This prevents a quick uncocking of the wrists at the top of the swing and the resultant loss of all power. It also helps avert a slice, which takes all the distance from the hit.
Few things give a greater feeling of accomplishment than striking the ball with the middle of the clubface and watching it go straight and far. And there are few worse feelings of despair than those when the ball is hit with the heel of the club or with the top half of the clubface and dribbles away or shoots off into places where it was never intended to go.
It’s no disgrace to hit a golf ball crooked. There are so many things that can go wrong off the tee that even the best players have their bad days. Sam Snead, who is recognized as a picture swinger, occasionally hits the ball with a hook that makes a pitcher’s best curve ball look dinky.
Ben Hogan, who holds four Open titles and record scores in both the Open and Masters, was a notorious hooker and ready to quit the game until long hours of labor on the practice tees got the ball moving in the opposite direction-from left to right. With few exceptions, most power hitters produce hooking action, which I believe is the correct way for the ball to fly.
In 1958, when I first won the Masters, I hit a drive on the seventeenth hole that hooked a little too much, smacked into a tree, and almost put me in the land of bogey.
Fortunately it bounced back into the fairway and I was able to reach the green with an iron and get my par. I was lucky there since all players make mistakes. The idea is to reduce these mistakes to a minimum.
Until you get a slight hooking action, you aren’t coming into the ball right. The average player, I mean.
At most courses, there are four par-five holes and par is 72. When you can hit the long ball consistently off the tee, the par fives are reduced to par fours and par for you is 68. The shorter hitter is at a disadvantage most of the time. When the long-baller is on the green or mighty close, the shorter hitter has almost a full pitch shot.
He’s playing an easy par-five hole with this shot, but the long hitter has only a chip or two putts for his birdie-and is within eagle range.
One of the most important factors in setting yourself up for the long hit is the grip. You must hold the club firm, and use the strong position. That is, have the left thumb alongside the shaft on the right side rather than on top. The right hand will fall in line if you overlap the right pinkie be tween the first two fingers of the left hand and place it firmly in the valley there.
I’m convinced that most players who slice take the clubhead back outside the line of flight the first six inches from the ball. Concentrate on moving the clubhead straight back. This will force you into the correct hitting position at the top. There is no breaking of the wrists until the hands pass the right hip.
Use a driver with a medium to soft shaft in the beginning. The softer shaft with more whip will give the ball a longer flight with less physical effort. The stiff-shafted club must be swung much harder to produce an equal amount of force.
The length of the driver is a factor in hitting the long ball, too. The longer the club, the bigger the arc and the more speed. It is harder to control the longer driver but, once you get the feeling of the long ball, it is easy to move back to a club of average length.
Many times I have been accused of swinging so hard that my eyes bulge. No doubt I have slashed at the ball on occasions when the heat was on and my temperature was a few degrees higher than normal. For the most part, though, I think it’s the last-second release of the club as it comes back to the hitting position that gives this impression.
I hit down on the ball more than most because I believe that the club- head and the ball should meet at the bottom of the arc of my swing. The more popular conception is that you hit the ball on the upswing. When you do hit the ball on the upswing, the ball gets a higher flight. This shot is more difficult to control if there is any wind; it does not have as much roll and thus costs you distance.
I have the feeling of starting back to the ball from the top with my left hand. At one time I was a bad hooker, but I always managed good distance and gradually learned to control the amount of hooking action. I still have a tendency to hook because I’m hanging onto the club for dear life with the left hand.
I love this article by The King, Arnold Palmer. I have always been one to swing hard naturally and then work on accuracy through trusting my unconscious mind. My height is 5′ 5″ and I am able to sometimes hit it 300 yards. More often, it’s about 260-270. This comes from my fearlessness at going at the ball with most of what I have in this body! I don’t think you get more accuracy by swinging easy as Arnold says.
This is an excerpt from a book in the Online Classics Golf Library, an ever-expanding collection of golf books. Membership and lifetime access to the OCG library can be yours with your purchase of
A complete guide to score improvement for those with little time to work on their game AND A TURBOCHARGE for those that do. One payment, continuous books on golf sent to you to read on your computer or print out and read while sitting on your couch or easy chair.
Arnold Palmer teaches how to hit the driver